Saturday, 27 June 2015

ZX Spectrum Loading Screens Quiz

During the early eighties on my first computer the ZX Spectrum games were, to begin with, not on CD, DVD, Hard disk or Rom Cartridge, they were loaded into the computer from audio cassette tapes.

Even though the games were as little as 8 kilobytes in size they still took an awful long time to load into the computer. Four or five minutes doesn't sound like a long time but it is when you are just sat there staring at the screen hoping the 'loading error' message doesn't pop up and also hoping you won't be driven insane by the flashing 'loading... please wait' message that adorned many early games.

To relieve the boredom programmers would record loading screen data at the start of the cassette which would display a pretty picture on your TV screen whilst you waited for the actual game to download. Nice....., until you realised this data in itself also took minutes to load into the computer in effect extending the waiting time even further, Yawn!!

But anyway, considering the limited capabilities of the Spectrum they still managed to create some unforgettable images that burned themselves into the memory as you were staring at them for so long every time you wanted to play a particular game.

So now for the geeky fun memory test part of this post. Below are twenty six cropped images from various loading screens. Some contain little clues as to their identity. See how many you can recognise and put your answers in the comments. If you can guess all twenty six then you are a truly awesome speecy loading screen quiz nerd. I'll give the answers in the next post a week or two from now. Good luck.

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Runequest Fantasy RPG (1980's)

Runquest 2nd Edition Cover

It just happened one day in the early eighties for no apparent reason. I took the usual route home from school through the Chapelside precinct in Spondon, Derby and past the village model shop which had lots of Airfix model kits of aircraft, battleships, tanks, soldiers and other stuff to do with the military.

Where the model shop used to be back in the eighties.

But that day something a bit different caught my eye. on display in a cylindrical glass carousel were Model figures of all kinds of fantasy creatures. Dragons, skeletons, Elves, Dwarves, Goblins, Trolls and other things that I didn't even know the name of yet brought to life with some amazing artwork.

An impressive display.

I found out that people were using these models for their fantasy role playing games. I'd heard of Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) and had seen it introduced briefly on a kids tv show but i didn't really understand it. At the time I wasn't sure it was for me but seeing these amazing lead figures in all their glory pushed me into looking into it further. 

Various blister packs from Citadel Miniatures.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Top Ten Retro Snacks

My top ten retro choccy bars went down a treat so this time it's the turn of retro snacks. Once again some have faded out of existence and some have hung around in a shrunken version of their former selves.

It may look like there's only a couple of Walkers products in the list but actually Smiths and Walkers were two of the three brands used by Nabisco (aka National Biscuit Company), the company who makes Oreo's and Ritz Crackers. Walkers was taken over by Lay's crisps owner Frito-Lay which is part of the PepsiCo company. When this happened most of the snacks were given the Walkers brand bar Chipsticks and Frazzles which kept the Smiths brand. Although I did notice Snaps were originally branded as Walkers and then later Smiths.

Walkers gained Wotsits from Golden Wonder. KP, owned at the time by United Biscuits, also acquired some of Golden Wonders snacks, Wheat Crunchies and Nik Naks. KP is now owned by a German company called Intersnack. So from this we can ascertain that now just a couple of massive companies dominate the UK snack market and they're not British anymore.

I haven't done as much research this time around, no year of introduction or slogans. Maybe I got lazy by eating too many of these delicious snacks. Anyway it's now time to reminisce about the ones I ate that were great.

10 Nik Naks - Scampi & Lemon by Golden Wonder (Now KP)

Weird shapes chunks of scampi and lemon flavored corn.

09 Frazzles by Smiths

Shaped like bacon, tasted like bacon. As a kid I was convinced it was bacon.

08 Cheese & Onion Crisps by Walkers

Classic tangy and sharp cheese and onion flavour